(Statement of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines)
After a decade of prosecution and trial, a court decision is expected on the gruesome Ampatuan massacre case next month. The Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines renews its call for a closure that will bring all perpetrators, especially the masterminds, to justice.
No other outcome is acceptable. Not one more day of delay can be justified.
The horrific display of impunity that claimed 58 lives, including 32 Philippine media workers, on November 23, 2009 underscored the deadly mix of political abuse and government failures that remains a threat we face today.
Our colleagues were doing their job when they were ruthlessly gunned down while begging for their lives. Already regarded as one of the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists, the Philippines became the scene of the deadliest single attack on media workers with the savage killings in Ampatuan town.
Convictions of the perpetrators and full recompense of the victims’ families will be a first step in reversing the long and tragic injustice. The government, however, has to do much more to banish the political barbarism that engenders such attacks.
We call on officials at the highest level to take effective steps to stop all forms of attacks and intimidation against journalists. They should fulfill their core constitutional duty to protect fundamental freedoms.
While the danger persists, we in the media industry, along with our employers, should take all precautions to mitigate threats. But we will not stop doing our journalism that’s accurate, fair and courageously independent for all the right reasons. Journalism advances public interest. Journalism buttresses democracy and the rule of law. Journalism is not a crime.